Broadcast in 136 countries and with 1.7 billion potential viewers worldwide, ONE Championship Global Superheroes took place last January 26, Friday, at the Mall of Asia Arena, where local and international martial arts superstars gathered in what was tagged as another night of the world’s most exciting martial arts action.
Aiming to unleash real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, dreams, inspiration, and strength, the night showcased ten action-packed martial arts duels. With mostly Asian fighters, the event was in celebration of Asia’s greatest cultural treasure, ONE Championship, and its deep-rooted values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion.
Six Filipino martial artists participated in five out of ten bouts.
Two Filipinas had to face one another for the atomweight category of the preliminary matches, the second fight of the night. Zamboanginian Jomary Torres battled the two-time National Wushu Champion, April Osenio from the country’s premier mixed martial arts training camp, Team Lakay.
Osenio started off strong but Torres showcased just as incredible strength to put an end to the fight with a satisfying knockout victory. At 40 seconds, Torres was declared the winner, and went down the ONE women’s history as the female fighter to have the fastest knockout finish across all divisions.
Another history was made—even more difficult to top—following the all-female fight. Filipino Edward Kelly and Cambodian Meas Meul duelled for the featherweight title. “The Ferocious” Kelly hyped the crowd when he knocked out Meul, at 21 seconds flat, with a cross, left hook, and roundhouse kick combination. The Cordillera native now owns both the fastest knockout and finish in ONE featherweight history.
Edward’s older brother, Eric Kelly, was the fourth Filipino to step up on the ring, on the 8th bout of the night for the featherweight category of the main matches. However, going against Rafael Nunes, victory seemed elusive to Eric as he was taken down by his Brazilian foe, forcing him to submit in the second round with a d’arce choke. Self-trained Eric moved down to 12-5 win-loss record.
In the co-main event, pride of Baguio, Joshua Pacio, went on against China’s Lan Ming Qang. “The Passion” Pacio easily took control of the fight and did not wait for round two to end it. Just as he predicted and promised his supporters to do, Pacio landed some solid strikes to Qang then exhibited a rear naked choke, forcing the Chinese national to surrender seconds before the end of the first round. The 22-year-old Team Lakay youngster improved his cage fight track with 11-2 win-loss record.
Finally, with a world title on the line, the epic main event was between Philippines’ Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio and Kazakhstan’s Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov, for the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship.
At the age of 14, Eustaquio started with kickboxing before he transitioned to wushu, and was even invited to the national team. But his dream was always to become a professional martial artist. In 2011, he made his debut as one. His first attempt to become a world champion was in 2014. On Friday night, January 26 of this year, in front of his beloved countrymen, he attempted once more.
And he succeeded.
A well-rounded and much more confident Eustaquio delivered a masterful performance as early as the first round, putting up a good fight against former world champion Akhmetov, who only has one loss in his noteworthy record. Akhmetov tried to close the distance between him and Eustaquio, but the latter constantly landed leg kicks and front kicks, with occasional punches from a good range, until he was the one who dictated their distance.
Several takedown attempts were made by Akhmetov in the following rounds, but Eustaquio expertly avoided them. After five thrilling rounds, capitalizing on his stellar takedown defense to prevent Akhmetov’s offensive attempts, Eustaquio won via unanimous decision.
Right after his fight, emotional Eustaquio was asked about his victory, and the newly-crowned World Champion was at a loss for words, “I don’t know what to say, guys,” he said.
He went on to express his utmost gratitude to everyone who supported him on his journey, “This belt is not mine alone, it’s ours. I’m proud to represent this flag, this country,” he stated with pride.
Eustaquio is one among other world champions who will serve as role models and global superheroes to billions of people, by celebrating values, igniting dreams, inspiring nations, and changing the world—a responsibility that ONE Championship has committed to fulfill, along with tackling pressing global issues such as education, food and hunger, health, and gender equality.
Here are the results of the other bouts that evening:
- Sam-a Gaiyanghadao defeated Joseph Lasiri (in the first-ever ONE Championship Muay Thai bout), Round 2.
- Ma Hao Bin defeated Sotir Kichukov via unanimous decision, Round 3.
- Hayato Suzuki defeated Yago Bryan by submission, Round 1.
- Emilio Urrutia defeated Bruno Pucci by knockout, Round 1.
- Rajinder Singh Meena defeated Ze Hao Zhang by submission, Round 1.